On the precipice of Hall of Fame Induction weekend in Cincinnati, the Redlegs faltered in their attempt to kick it off on the right note, falling 2-1 to the Miami Marlins.
Worse than being shut down once in a week by a pitcher is having it happen twice, which is exactly what Nathan Eovaldi has done to the Cincinnati Reds. An average pitcher coming into the week, Eovaldi has turned himself into a fire-balling gremlin with an appetite for missed bats and strikeouts.
Posting another dazzling effort, Eovaldi would be even better the second time around. For the first time all year, Eovaldi would not allow a run across the plate under his watch. He would go eight innings (tied for a season-high) and allow only five hits while walking just one (to lead off the game) and striking out six. Clocked at as high as 99 MPH in the seventh inning, any discussion of Eovaldi losing his effectiveness later in his outings has not been shown against Cincinnati.
Eovaldi began the game doing the one thing opposing pitchers tell themselves coming into the start that they do not want to do: walk Billy Hamilton. Hamilton would trot down to first and then do his best to get a read on Eovaldi’s move. Unfortunately, he would guess wrong, darting for second as Eovaldi turned to throw to first. Nabbed for the league-leading 18th time, Hamilton being picked off blew up a potential big first inning.
Opposite of Eovaldi was Mike Leake, who also had an impressive performance last weekend against Miami. He was stellar once again on Friday, but had zero run support to back him. Leading the league in hits allowed, Leake would not so much be burned by the opposition’s offense, but rather his untimely walks. He would walk four in total on the evening, but the Marlins would get a run on a sacrifice fly from Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the sixth after a walk and a hit by pitch set the table.
There would be one more run for Leake to allow, this one, off the bat of the enormous Giancarlo Stanton. Heading into that plate appearance, Stanton had been 0-for-5 against Leake so far on the season, but after a floating changeup refused to yank down out of the zone, Stanton would yank it so high it seemed to ricochet off the moon before eventually deflecting down into the upper deck. His league-leading 28th blast proved to be the difference in what would ultimately wind up being a one-run game.
The only Reds player to have himself a multi-hit night was the ever-so-versatile Todd Frazier, who made a mid-game switch from third base over to first after Brayan Pena left in the third inning with left hamstring tightness. It would also be Frazier who would begin the rally in the ninth that almost propelled the Reds to advancing the game at least to extra innings.
Having pulled starter Nathan Eovaldi from the game, it was up to Steve Cishek, the Marlins closer to shut the door. After Frazier’s double, he would watch as Devin Mesoraco would hit a rocket shot to nearly the exact same spot, cutting the deficit to just a run with nobody out. Ramon Santiago would perform his due diligence by moving Mesoraco to third with a sacrifice bunt.
With a runner at third and only one out, the Redlegs would be unable to capitalize and knot the contest at two. Rather, Skip Schumaker would bounce out on what was an incredible stop by Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria who would nails Schumaker at first after a “do or die” scoop. The heroics would bypass Kristopher Negron, who drew a walk and left the game up to Zack Cozart.
Due to the circumstance of Brayan Pena having already left the game, and Ramon Santiago entering it, Cozart was forced to bat for himself, rather than in favor of Ryan Ludwick. The light-hitting defensive wizard would go down swinging to end the game and give Miami the series opener on Friday night.
Saturday will be a special day at the ballpark, as Jake Beckley, Ron Oester, Dave Parker and Ken Griffey Jr. will all be receiving their Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame Induction plaques (obviously, Beckley has prior obligations that will keep him from being in attendance). The ceremony will take place ahead of what is scheduled to be a 7:10 p.m. start.
Getting the ball for the Redlegs will be Alfredo Simon, who is still in search of his first win post-All-Star break. He will be opposed by a blast from the past in Brad Penny, who will be making his Major League debut on the year.
Tags: Cincinnati Reds